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Declaration signed to boost development of winter para-sport

A declaration has been signed by representatives from 34 National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) and national and international federations to boost the development of winter para-sport across the globe.

The Ostersund Declaration has been signed following a workshop in the Swedish city over the weekend. The declaration seeks to improve athlete development, talent identification and recruitment, with all bodies represented at the workshop agreeing to work together to achieve the goals.

NPCs and National Federations (NFs) pledged to build partnerships with governments, Olympic federations and event organisers, as well as healthcare, research and business groups to increase the level of opportunities given to winter para-sports athletes of all ages.

International Federations (IFs) also agreed to add further events to their respective calendars and explore the opportunity to host more multi-sport competitions. In addition, IFs will promote research and development in key areas to increase the pool of athletes available to NFs.

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) will be responsible for organising regular discussions between the various bodies and support them in the initiative. The IPC will also press ahead with designing a 10-year plan in line with the Ostersund Declaration. The plan will include the introduction of a multi-sport event competed for by both leading and up-and-coming athletes, and securing key commercial partnerships to aid the growth of winter para-sport.

“The results of the workshop on para-athlete pathways in winter sports surpasses my expectations by far,” Johan Strid, secretary general of the Swedish Paralympic Committee, said. “The combined efforts of committed representatives of NPCs, NFs, IFs and not the least IPC have resulted in a declaration outlining a clear direction in reaching out with winter sport to more individuals with an impairment.”

Rita van Driel, IPC governing board member, added: “This represents a huge turning-point for winter para-sport around the world. Here in Ostersund we have seen such passion and energy to increase opportunities for people to try para-sport with the goal of increasing the quality of competition.

“The IPC will do whatever is necessary to support the declaration being taken forward and I hope that now the governing bodies will come on board to make the same commitment.”

All parties present at the workshop will put forward the Declaration to those that weren’t in attendance for formal endorsement by the end of the year. The declaration ties in with the IPC’s strategic plan, which strives to establish the winter Paralympic Games as a major event on the sporting calendar, empower athletes and support the development of winter para-sport.